Okay, so the BMW i3 is a city car, right? BMW designed it as such and has made no secret of that fact. But what if you aren’t a German living in a large city and in possession of a strong sense of propriety and common sense?
What if, for example, you are a Kiwi who decides it would be a good idea to take an electric vehicle (EV) designed specifically for city life and do a road trip the entire length of the country? She’ll be right mate, it’s a car, after all. That’s what they do, right?
Well, yes and no. But the i3 is still a BMW, remember, and that means even if it was intended specifically for urban dwelling, it is still unusually attracted to open roads and corners.
So it was that I found myself in the same BMW i3 on two different road trips. One was the first leg of an epic journey from the very bottom of New Zealand to the very top. That’s right; Bluff to Cape Reinga. The other was a smaller affair, but up north of Auckland to, erm, drink coffee.
Oh, and by the way, this was the pure electric version of the i3, not the one that packs a small two-cylinder petrol “range extender” engine. You know, the sensible one to take on a long distance road trip.
The epic road trip was part of Leading the Charge, organised by the Better NZ Trust to promote awareness of electric vehicles and clean air and stuff.
All very worthy, but let’s get that i3 out on the open road and get some coarse South Island chip seal under those skinny tyres.
Okay so yes, the i3’s ride is noticeably firm on these roads (and, indeed, most NZ highways), but it is not intrusive. Road noise over the coarse chip seal is noticeable as well, but this is more down to the fact that there is no engine noise to mask it.
Of course power is one thing the i3 doesn’t lack and it absolutely belts up to the legal open road speed limit. Close attention has to be paid to keep it on the legal side.
While the official 0-100kmh sprint is 7.2 seconds, the sheer bulging electrical torqueyness makes it feel far quicker than that.
Cruising is effortless in the i3 on the open road, with overtaking just as silently efficient as the charge up to 100kmh.
Speaking of charging, the i3 now boasts a range of around 200km; at a fast-charging station, it takes around 30 minutes to get it to 80 per cent.
And that is where the other, smaller, more coffee-influenced road trip came in.
Read more: Stuff